Law and Grace
Worldview of Abundance
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
The flow of grace through us is largely blocked when we are living inside a worldview of scarcity, a feeling that there’s just not enough: enough of God, enough of me, enough food, enough health care to go around, enough mercy to include and forgive all faults. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the human mind is actually incapable of imagining anything infinite or eternal. So it cannot imagine an infinite love or a God whose “love is everlasting,” as the Psalms continually shout. In other words, the mind of itself cannot know God.
The many “multiplication” of food stories in the Gospels—when Jesus feeds a crowd with very little (for example, Matthew 14:15-21)—clearly exemplify abundance as the foundation of reality. The spiritual point is grace, not some mere physical miracle. Notice in almost every case that the good apostles, who represent our worldview of scarcity, advise Jesus against feeding the crowd: “But how will two fish and five loaves be enough for so many?” Jesus is trying to move them from their worldview of scarcity to one of abundance, but does so with great difficulty. In the end, there is always much food left over, which should communicate the point: Reality, with its inherent overflowing, always has more than enough of itself to give. Just observe the seeds, spermatozoa, and pollen of the natural world.
Our unhealthy economics and politics persist because even Christians largely operate out of a worldview of scarcity: there is not enough land, water, money, and housing for all of us; and in America there are never enough guns to keep us safe. A saint always knows that there is more than enough for our need but never enough for our greed. In the midst of the structural stinginess and over-consumption of our present world, how do we possibly change consciousness and teach the mind to operate from mercy and graciousness? It will always be an uphill battle, and it will always depend upon a foundational and sustained conversion. Even the churches tend to be stingy with grace and mercy, as Pope Francis continues to point out.
Only our personal experiences of unconditional, unearned, and infinite love and forgiveness can move us from the normal worldview of scarcity to the divine world of infinite abundance. That’s when the doors of mercy blow wide open! That’s when we begin to understand the scale-breaking nature of the Gospel. Catholics and much of the world are now stunned to observe a pope who exemplifies this worldview in our time. We can no longer say it is impossible idealism.
Gateway to Silence:
By grace I am saved.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Today Is a Time for Mercy,” December 10, 2015, https://cac.org/richard-rohr-on-mercy-mp3.